Grimrock 2 – Insane Ironman Challenge
This is a post is related to Legend of Grimrock 2, and I think my Monday post will be too. If you’re sick of Grimrock talk, feel free to check out now, but also please feel free to come back once I’m done talking about Grimrock! Enough preamble, the topic is the “Insane Ironman” achievement.
I generally don’t go for achievements, in part because games these days often have hundreds of them, and in part because they are meaningless unless you assign your own value to them. I wanted to play Grimrock 2 again, but I wanted it to be challenging. In fact, I wanted to have the most challenge possible. To this end, I turned on all the difficulty settings and made a party setup that I felt would grow into their abilities well.
Difficulty in Grimrock doesn’t affect items or puzzles in any way, it only makes the enemies faster, stronger, and sturdier in the form of a lot more hit points. Because I had already fully played the game, this meant that I knew all the secrets and puzzle solutions. In fact, really all I did was make combat harder and more fiddly, remove my map feature, and make it so the heal/revive crystals only worked once each and were also the only times I could save. Normally you can save before you do something reckless or stupid, like most PC games, but now I was forced to ration my saves, like one of the older Resident Evil games.
I’m not opposed to the idea of limited saves, but I do think they represent artificial difficulty. Limited saves means that at some point the played will die after accomplishing many tasks, and have to re-do them. In a game as static as Grimrock 2, this just amounts to time being wasted, rather than skills being challenged. And don’t worry, I definitely died at least twice at points that caused me to lose about an hour of progress. At one point I ragequit until the next day. I got exceptionally good at clearing a fairly easy part early on in Twigroot Forest, because it led into a difficult part that I kept having to re-do.
If you feel the need to this challenge too, I have some tips for you, in no particular order.
– Minotaurs are by far the best users of any weapons that are based in strength checks, and heavy weapons in particular are the best weapons in the game.
– Guns are actually terrible, but you should still bring an Alchemist to grow herbs. Make them learn magic instead.
– You need at least one spellcaster, and definitely not more than two.
– Skip Twigroot Forest early on, go to the Forgotten River and get XP, loot, and the Rope. You can come back to the Forest when you’re stronger.
– Put at least one point in all the spell schools besides Earth on your caster, so that you can cast their respective shield spells. Earth magic is worthless.
– Find every secret! Even if you don’t need the loot, secrets give XP upon discovery.
– When faced with a powerful enemy, freeze them with a frost bomb and you’ll have an easier time.
– Rest often. You can afford the food cost if you make sure to save all the food you find. You definitely don’t want to go into fights hurt.
I have more tips but those are the basics. I actually found this challenge to be much easier than I expected, and in general it wasn’t a problem after the first few levels. I built my team to be really good at the endgame, but this also made them fairly weak in the early game. Combat was still unforgiving, but once I had access to healing potions and better armor this wasn’t much of a problem. The extra difficulty options turned into nuisances; I missed my map and I missed being able to save any time, but I stopped having total party wipes about halfway through the game. To really make this game hard, you need to run a group without an Alchemist. Those potions are make or break.
I finished this run with the secret ending and the secret final boss, because I don’t half-ass stuff I like. Grimrock 2 is now one of only a few Steam Games I own with all achievements done. I feel a little accomplished, but mostly sad that it didn’t turn out to really be as much of a hardcore difficult challenge as I expected. I guess the game is really more about the experience than it is about beating the player, and with all my experience playing roguelikes (who only want to kill you) it felt like a breath of a fresh air when I first played it. It made me want to talk about it and get other people to try it. I have done both of those things now. Thanks for reading.